One of the most important – and most difficult – parts of teaching is providing constructive criticism without destroying a students’ belief that he or she is capable of succeeding in school.
I recently started reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and am working through some of the exercises she presents in her 12-week course. This morning’s task was to write about three old enemies of my creative self-worth.
I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had a lot of encouragement of my writing endeavors throughout most of my life, so it was hard for me to think of three. Then I remembered my high school Rhetoric tea (more…)
Quite some time ago, I mentioned that I would be posting writing prompts for you on Wednesdays, but somehow I never managed to follow through. But, have I got a good one for you today!
One of the writing exercises I had to complete for my Advanced Novel Writing course this week included a free-write in which I had to answer the following question:
What is the GREATEST LONGING in this character’s soul? (more…)
Last night was the second meeting of my Monday evening Advanced Novel Writing course at Mount Mary College. Our homework for last night was to complete two writing exercises designed to get us thinking about our stories and where we are going with them.
The first exercise was a “Building the Novel” exercise that our professor adapted from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. (I haven’t read this text yet, but it sounds like I may need to.) We were to review Campbell’s 17 Phases of the Hero’s Journey and then type up one paragraph for each of the phases, describing how the characters in our own novels would deal with each of the phases.
Even though I felt like I had much of my story figured out already, I found this exercise to be very helpful in getting me to the next step in writing my story. I worked out a lot of new details and answered a couple of old questions as well. I also wrote my first chapter last week, and the story now seems to be seeping out of my very pores, drenching the pages with word sweat. (more…)
One of my students told me last semester that her mom is an English teacher, and that she doesn’t even bother trying to teach the difference between active and passive voice to her students anymore because none of them ever “get it.” What a shame.
I wonder sometimes why passive voice is such an easy trap to fall into. After all, active sentences are typically simpler than passive sentences and require fewer words. Wouldn’t you think the brain would take the path of least resistance and lead the writer to write more active sentences? Apparently not. (more…)
My kindergartener told me the other day that the word “easy” is a bad word at his school. I asked him why, and he told me, “Just because something’s easy for you doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone, and we don’t want to make our friends feel bad.” I guess I can somewhat understand the reasoning, but at the same time, I wonder how this makes the kids feel when they think something is easy and are not allowed to voice their opinion.
There are lots of things that are easy for other people but not for me (math.) I won’t hold it against you if it’s easy for you. I won’t decide I just can’t do it because it’s not easy for me. No, I just accept the fact that I have to work harder than you do on that specific task and take comfort in knowing that there’s probably something else I DO think is easy. And when I do that other task, I’d like to be able to feel proud of myself and say, “Wow, this is easy!” (more…)
Is it April already? I meant to write a ton of compelling blog posts about all of the sessions I attended at the March 2012 APW Convention in Chicago, but I didn’t get past describing the first session. Although I’m a bit behind, I think a lot of the lessons I learned at the convention are essential. So today, I’ll take a peek backward and tell you about the second session I attended, titled, “Out There and In Here: Creative Writing in the Real World.”
I’ve been working on this week’s homework for two straight days, and I just can’t seem to get it done. I think it’s a combination of the subject matter (Narratology) and the weather. I’m not knocking Narratology, but this may very well be the most painful English course I have ever taken. We are studying Seymour Chatman‘s Story and Discourse, and I swear I have to read each sentence at least 3 times to make any sense of it.
This week, I have to take one of the theories of character Chatman discusses in Story and Discourse and summarize it in layman’s terms. I spent at least 4 hours on this yesterday and so far have only written 4 paragraphs of gibberish that I am quite certain don’t make a bit of sense. (more…)
Yesterday, I officially joined the International English Honor Society at the 2012 Sigma Tau Delta induction ceremony which took place in the beautiful Caroline Hall student lounge at Mount Mary College.
According to the Sigma Tau Delta website, “Candidates for graduate membership must be enrolled in a graduate program in English, or one of its specializations, have completed six semester hours of graduate work or the equivalent, and have a minimum grade point average of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale.”
I lured my children to the induction ceremony with the promise of food, and they were actually very well behaved throughout the ceremony. Perhaps it was the promise of a slice of the huge cake sitting on a back table that kept them in line. My boyfriend came along as well to keep an eye on the kids and man the video camera (he kept the camera trained on me for pretty much the entire video!) (more…)
My Written Communication students are writing a booklet of essays that they will be turning in at the end of this semester, and I’m planning to write a booklet of my own along with them. This week we learned about the descriptive essay in class, so they must write a descriptive essay by our next meeting. The students have been planning their essays for several weeks, but I’m just now thinking of mine. I can’t decide what to write about. I know, I should have made my outline right along with them.
The final booklet of essays will contain essays using each of the following patterns of development: (more…)
Welcome to Part 4 of my blog series on the 2012 AWP Conference session titled, Now That’s a Novel Idea: Marketability (Gasp!) and Creative Writing Programs. I’m assuming you’ve at least read my introductory post, so I’ll just jump right in today and talk about the panelists’ views on query letters and agent-hunting.
First of all, what is a query letter, and why do you need one? Well, these days most publishers do not want to see your entire novel manuscript if they don’t already have a working relationship with you. In most cases, they want nothing more than a query letter, and possibly a short synopsis. The publisher will then use that information to decide if they think it’s worth their time to request a copy of the full manuscript. So, it’s important to write a query letter that really sells your manuscript.
Our session panelists provided the following tips for writing an effective query letter: (more…)
Welcome to Part 3 of my blog series on the 2012 AWP Conference session titled, Now That’s a Novel Idea: Marketability (Gasp!) and Creative Writing Programs. I’m assuming you’ve at least read my introductory post, so I’ll just jump right in today and talk about the panelists’ views on submitting and submitting and submitting and…
One of the main lessons stressed by all of the presenters on this panel is that you should submit and submit often. One of the presenters says there is no better time to submit your work than today because, “It’s best to begin the process of being rejected” sooner rather later.
Don’t avoid submitting your work because you don’t think it’s good enough to be published yet. Instead, submit everything and accept the fact that you will be rejected. Most of us would rather be rejected by a lover than by a publisher, but we have to remember that rejection is just a part of the writer’s life. (more…)
Yesterday, I began my discussion on the 2012 AWP Conference session titled, “Now That’s a Novel Idea: Marketability (Gasp!) and Creative Writing Programs.” Today I’d like to share some of the panelists’ advice on approaching the early stages of writing a novel.
Before I start, I should tell you that I arrived at this session late after getting lost trying to find my way to registration upon arriving at the conference. So, I missed out on the introductions and am unable to attribute some of the quotes I wrote down during the session. (Thankfully, I’m no journalist; otherwise I would probably be in big trouble!) I’ll do my best to give credit where credit is due, but if I get something wrong, please tell me so I can fix it.
One of the speakers at this session recommends that you write a synopsis of your novel early in the process to make sure you have a clear picture of what your novel is about. The synopsis will also help you sell your story to potential buyers (agents, editors, publishers, etc.) Remember, they won’t be interested in your novel if you can’t sufficiently tell them what the novel is about. (more…)
It’s been more than a week since I attended the 2012 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference and Book Fair in Chicago, IL. So far, I’ve only barely scratched the surface of the convention. Today I’d like to dive into my notes and talk about one session I attended, which was titled, “Now That’s a Novel Idea: Marketability (Gasp!) and Creative Writing Programs.” (more…)
My Dream Career
If you could have any job, what would you do? This is a typical first date question, job interview question, or composition class free writing topic, one whose answer may provide a great deal of insight into the life of the respondent. If you were to ask this question of me, my answer would surely provide insight into my psyche simply because the way I would answer is far different than the average American. (more…)
Yesterday, my Written Communication students workshopped their very first essays of the semester. I don’t like to ever ask my students to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself, so I wrote an essay along with them.
Early in the semester, I asked them to write ideas for free writing topics on little slips of paper that I placed in an envelope. We do a 10 – 15 minute free write in every class session. Sometimes I have a topic planned, and sometimes I’ll pull a couple of their ideas from the envelope and let them choose one. Usually, unless I have something I need to do to prepare for the next portion of the class, I’ll sit and free write with them. I think this is a useful activity for any w (more…)